Honda_CR-V_frontAfter giving its mid-sized SUV competitors a free kick by not offering either two-wheel drive or diesel power the Honda CR-V is now back in the thick of things with its fourth-generation model providing both options, albeit not together.

While Australian car buyers continue to resist diesel engines in their passenger cars they do love it in their big workhorse utes and wagons but haven’t quite decided on their preference regarding compact SUVs. So it makes sense to give potential buyers the choice between petrol and diesel.

Honda CR-V now comes with the choice of two petrol engines (2.0 and 2.4 litres) and one diesel (2.2 litres). The smaller of the petrol engines is only available with two-wheel drive but with either six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The lower-specced DTi-S diesel gets the same transmission choices, all other variants are auto-only.

The CR-V diesel comes has a 2.2-litre turbocharged engine that generates a moderate 100 kW of power but, more importantly 350 Nm of torque between 2000 and 2750 rpm.

The entry level 2.0-litre petrol peaks at 114 kW and 190 Nm and, with nearly 100 kg less weight to carry without 4WD, supplies more than enough urge for the average urban user.

The 2.4-litre petrol has more power (140 kW) than the other two engines but, with 222 Nm at 4400 rpm, it falls well short of the diesel’s torque. Surprisingly, at 1500 kg, the towing capacity of automatic versions of all three engines is the same. If you need more then the manual DTi-S is the only option. It can tow up to 2000 kg.

The petrol CR-V comes in three equipment levels, VTi, VTi-S and VTi-L with the diesel only available in the higher-specced DTi-S and DTi-L.

Some clever design work has managed to make the fourth generation CR-V smaller on the outside but larger on the inside than its predecessor. The front seats are slightly further apart than before, thus increasing more shoulder room. There’s excellent leg and head room throughout with seats which are both supportive and comfortable. Two adults or three children can travel long distances in comfort in the rear, the latter aided by theatre-style seating that improves their front visibility.

With all seats in place there’s 556 litres of load space but drop the seat backs to an almost-flat position with a clever lever and this jumps to 1648 litres when loaded to the roof – not something that we’d recommend. All models come with a full-size spare wheel.

Built around Honda’s intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) are a reversing camera, integrated hands-free Bluetooth phone and audio with MP3 and WMA capability, and USB connectivity.

Satellite navigation is optional on the VTi and standard on all other models.

The i-MID system is let down by small rectangular controls below the screen, including a volume control that requires a series of prods and inevitably takes the driver’s attention from the road. Fortunately there are steering wheel mounted controls as an alternative.

All models in the new Honda CR-V range have a five-star ANCAP safety rating and a full suite of electronic safety features including ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution; stability and traction control; front, side and full-length curtain airbags with rollover sensors that measures the tilt of the vehicle and activates when it senses an imminent rollover; whiplash-mitigation system; and reversing camera.

Models above the VTi also get front and rear foglights and rear parking sensors.

In addition passive safety in the CR-V has been improved with a body structure developed by Honda to provide optimum protection for occupants in crash situations while the front of the vehicle has been designed to minimise pedestrian injury.

All models come with Honda’s Econ and Eco Assist systems. Press a button and the Econ mode alters the drive-by-wire throttle’s mapping for increased torque and better economy. Eco Assist prompts the driver to optimise fuel efficiency by colour-changing arcs around the rim of the speedometer.

Our most recent test vehicle was the top of the range Honda CR-V DTi-L diesel with automatic transmission.

While there is the usual diesel clatter from outside the CR-V, extra sound insulation material has been fitted to the under-cabin floor and that combined with additional sound absorption material means that it’s all but impossible to tell that you’re travelling in a diesel once underway.

We’ve always loved the CR-V’s dashboard mounted gear lever with its sporty short shifter and there is also the option of shifting through steering wheel mounted paddles. Changes on the automatic are slick and timely.

Rear visibility is hindered somewhat by a relatively small rear window and large C-pillars but this is offset by large side mirrors.

Ride quality is on the soft side, but not sufficiently so as to compromise handling and even in relatively aggressive driving it turns in with reassuring precision.

Fuel consumption is officially listed on a combined cycle at 6.8 litres per 100 litres and we found ourselves recording only marginally higher during our test.

Honda Australia has emerged from a frustrating period that saw CR-V production halted altogether back in 2011 because of the Thailand floods, with its biggest variety of models yet and keen on pushing back up towards the top of the medium SUV sales charts.

With a fresh new style and the option of petrol or diesel engines and two or four-wheel drive combined with a distinguished heritage the signs are certainly promising.


VTi 2.0-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $27,490 (manual), $29,790 (automatic)
VTi 2.4-litre petrol 4WD five-door wagon: $32,790 (automatic)
VTi-S 2.4-litre petrol 4WD five-door wagon: $36,290 (automatic)
VTi-L 2.4-litre petrol 4WD five-door wagon: $42,290 (automatic)
DTi-S 2.2-litre turbo-diesel 4WD five-door wagon: $38,290 (manual), $40,590 (automatic)
DTi-L 2.2-litre turbo-diesel 4WD five-door wagon: $45,340 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Honda dealer for driveaway prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Optional in 2WD VTi and DTi-S, standard in all other models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Optional in in VTi, standard in all other models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (Honda CR-V DTi-S 2.2-litre diesel five-door wagon)

Capacity: 2.199 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 85.0 x 96.9 mm
Compression Ratio: 16.3:1
Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm @ 2000-2750 rpm

Driven Wheels: 4WD
Manual Transmission: Six-speed
Automatic Transmission: Five-speed
Final Drive Ratio: 4.111:1

Length: 4570 mm
Wheelbase: 2620 mm
Width: 1820 mm
Height: 1685 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1664 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres
Boot Capacity: 556 litres (up to 1648 litres with rear seatback lowered)
Towing Ability: 600 kg (2000 kg with braked trailer)

Front Suspension: MacPherson strut, anti-roll bars
Rear Suspension: Multi-link, anti-roll bars
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

Type: Petrol 91RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.7 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 7/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6/10

Three years/100,000 km

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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